Last updated on May 6, 2023

Blood Price - Illustration by Antonio Jose Manzanedo

Blood Price | Illustration by Antonio Jose Manzanedo

Competitive EDH differs from casual EDH in one simple way: you’re playing to win. Gone are the social contracts and rule 0. Infinite combos and stax are all allowed. But as in any Constructed format, you don’t need to play the most expensive cards to have a competitive deck. Today I’m evaluating some budget builds that can go toe-to-toe with the best.

cEDH on a budget usually boils down to avoiding expensive staples like Mana Crypt and Jeweled Lotus, or ideal mana fixing in Alpha dual lands like Volcanic Island and Bayou. I’m here to see what you can do without them.

Let’s take a look at some brews!

#11. Heliod, Sun-Crowned Stax

Heliod, Sun-Crowned - Illustration by Lius Lasahido

Heliod, Sun-Crowned | Illustration by Lius Lasahido

First up is the Heliod, Sun-Crowned plus Walking Ballista combo. The deck slows down the game by playing hatebears and stax/prison stuff, all while having one of your combo pieces in the command zone.

Of course, hoping to draw your other combo piece naturally doesn’t make this deck very competitive. Ranger of Eos and Ranger-Captain of Eos will tutor Walking Ballista, and you can find them by sacrificing a 2-drop to Pyre of Heroes. Scrapyard Recombiner can also find Ballista, and Triskelion is basically a second copy.

Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes protects your combo from spot removal or activated abilities if needed.

While assembling this combo you have hatebears in the form of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Drannith Magistrate, Aven Mindcensor, Esper Sentinel, and Hushbringer, among others.

You also have hate in artifacts like Trinisphere, Uba's Mask, and Thorn of Amethyst. Cards like Rule of Law, Deafening Silence, and Aura of Silence will stop other decks from going off too quickly.

#10. K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth Fast Reanimate Combo

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth - Illustration by Chase Stone

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth | Illustration by Chase Stone


K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth is a “glass cannon” commander, going all in on the combo expecting to win in the first 3-4 turns. The gameplan is to cast K’rrik as soon as possible, ideally on turn 2. A number of combos open up from there.

One combo goes like this: cast Buried Alive looking for Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Dimir House Guard, and Chainer, Dementia Master. Chainer plus K’rrik allows you to pay nine life to reanimate Gray Merchant of Asphodel. The Merchant nets you 21 life and then you reanimate Dimir House Guard, sacrificing Merchant and repeating the process until everyone is dead.

There’s also the Aetherflux Reservoir route (plan B). You’re paying life to cast spells, recovering life, casting more spells, and so on until you can laser everyone down with your artifact.


These upgrades improve this deck’s speed, consistency, and resiliency:

#9. Lathril, Blade of the Elves Elf-Ball Combo

Lathril, Blade of the Elves - Illustration by Caroline Gariba

Lathril, Blade of the Elves | Illustration by Caroline Gariba


Lathril, Blade of the Elves is a Golgari () elf combo deck. The primary combo involves an elf that can tap for at least five mana (Priest of Titania or Elvish Archdruid) and Staff of Domination. With infinite mana, infinite untaps, and infinite cards, you should be able to finish the game on the spot.

You can always win through combat damage with Craterhoof Behemoth or Allosaurus Shepherd, a win condition that’s near and dear to Modern and Legacy players.

Throne of the God-Pharaoh serves as yet another win condition along with Lathril itself. Part of this deck’s power comes from its versatility.

#8. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade Stax

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade - Illustration by Steven Belledin

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade | Illustration by Steven Belledin


Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is a stax deck through and through. You can shut down all sorts of shenanigans at the table just by playing your commander early.

Your commander has assistance in the form of Drannith Magistrate, Archon of Emeria, and Dovin, Hand of Control. You play enchantments like Blind Obedience, Mystic Remora, and Rest in Peace to further limit what your opponents can do.

Of course, you need to win. Approach of the Second Sun with counterspell backup is one way to go about it. You can also lock the game with Omen Machine or Knowledge Pool and your commander in play so that your opponents can’t cast spells. That should open you up to winning the game via combat damage over the next several turns.

#7. Niv-Mizzet, Parun Infinite Damage/Cards Combo

Niv Mizzet, Parun - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Niv-Mizzet, Parun | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov


Niv-Mizzet, Parun is hard to cast, but hey, it can’t be countered. This is a good sign for a combo that depends on your commander resolving.

The obvious combo is with Curiosity enchanting your commander to draw your deck and ping your opponents in the process. Ophidian Eye and Tandem Lookout act as extra copies of Curiosity.

With Niv decks it’s really a game of keeping your 5/5 dragon commander in the game. Even if you can’t combo off immediately, the longer you can keep it in play, the more likely you are to win the game.

#6. Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow Expensive Spells Combo

Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow - Illustration by Yongjae Choi

Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow | Illustration by Yongjae Choi


Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow thrives on attacking with ninjas/changelings. The key here is to play cards with high mana value and cheap alternate costs. Mechanics like split cards, delve, affinity, and improvise are prime candidates. Incidentally, extra turn spells like Walk the Aeons and Temporal Trespass are expensive, so they serve double duty here by dealing damage and giving you extra combat steps.

Everything revolves around Yuriko’s ability here. You should be aware of certain combos, like using Brainstorm or Mystical Tutor to put Blinkmoth Infusion on the top of your deck. Cast Time Walk and repeat the process if you can’t win in a single turn.

Consider adding Vampiric Tutor and other similar spells to your deck if you’re willing to expand your budget.

#5. Chainer, Nightmare Adept Reanimator Combo

Chainer, Nightmare Adept - Illustration by Steve Prescott

Chainer, Nightmare Adept | Illustration by Steve Prescott


Chainer, Nightmare Adept aims to reanimate a certain infinite creature combo, in this case Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts. Looting effects like Cathartic Reunion, Anje's Ravager, and Daretti, Scrap Savant let you dump your combo pieces into the graveyard while drawing your reanimation spells.

Your reanimation comes in the form of Animate Dead, Dread Return, and Necrotic Ooze. Oriq Loremage, Entomb, and Buried Alive will get creatures you need into your graveyard.

You can even tutor for Kiki-Jiki with Goblin Matron. Alternatively, you can go the value route with Skullclamp and Callous Bloodmage.

#4. Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy Tap/Untap Combo

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy | Illustration by Jason Rainville


Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is all about making infinite mana and using its activated ability as an outlet (finding Spectral Sailor or Prophet of Distortion to draw all the cards you need).

The first and simplest combo involves a mana dork and Freed from the Real with Kinnan in play. Isochron Scepter plus Dramatic Reversal plus a handful of mana rocks is another classic way to generate infinite mana.

With so many combo pieces and a handful of tutors to help you out, you should always be able to combo off quickly.

#3. The Gitrog Monster Dredge Combo

The Gitrog Monster - Illustration by Jason Kang

The Gitrog Monster | Illustration by Jason Kang


The Gitrog Monster‘s last ability can be abused in several ways. The most common is to dredge out your library, putting lands into your graveyard and drawing cards. The combination of always having a dredge card in your library and continually drawing cards lets you mill your entire deck, shuffle it back in with Gaea's Blessing, and use those extra draw triggers from Gitrog to draw your entire deck. Dakmor Salvage is the most effective card here, being a land and a dredge card at the same time.

You’ve got infinite life with Golgari Brownscale loops (with the help of Gaea's Blessing and Noxious Revival) or infinite mana with Dark Ritual combos, which in turn gives you infinite lifedrain with Ebony Charm.

While these combos all sound complicated, they’re all super easy to set up as you really just need to get Dakmor Salvage in your graveyard and The Gitrog Monster in play.


If you want to up the consistency of this already powerful deck, look no further:

#2. Zada, Hedron Grinder Go-Wide/Pump Combo

Zada, Hedron Grinder - Illustration by Chris Rallis

Zada, Hedron Grinder | Illustration by Chris Rallis


Zada, Hedron Grinder aims to go wide, and each combat trick aimed at Zada will be copied targeting each other creature you control. Considering that Zada is a goblin and that lots of good goblin cards also make tokens, there’s enough incentive to build a go-wide goblin tribal deck with tribal lords, token generators, and lots of combat tricks.

Cards like Brute Force effectively become Overruns while Ancestral Anger becomes an Ancestral Recall on steroids.

The deck is full of token generators and spells to maximize the effectiveness of Zada’s ability. It’s quite a bit different from all the other decks on this list, so if you’re looking to have some fun, try this one out!

#1. Vadrik, Astral Archmage Storm Combo

Vadrik, Astral Archmage - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Vadrik, Astral Archmage | Illustration by Kieran Yanner


Vadrik, Astral Archmage makes your spells cheaper as its power increases, which can easily be abused. The goal is to pump Vadrik’s power with equipment or pump spells and then draw through your deck with Frantic Search, Big Score, and similar cards.

At this point you’ll have built up a hefty storm count. You can either finish the game using a storm card (Grapeshot works), dump all your excess mana into Jaya's Immolating Inferno, or do both!

Commanding Conclusion

Price of Fame - Illustration by Winona Nelson

Price of Fame | Illustration by Winona Nelson

Given that tons of cEDH decks easily fall into (even surpass) the $1,000 to $5,000 range, the definition of “budget” in this format can vary widely. Some players only have $50 to $100 to spend, while others might consider $900 to be “budget-friendly”.

I’ve tried to cover as wide a variety of decks as I could, but I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m sure there are many great budget cEDH decks that I missed, and I’d love to hear about them in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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  • Avatar
    Kair’ah March 15, 2023 6:21 pm

    The Niv deck isn’t even a niv deck O_o; I see none of the cards talked about in the description

    • Nikki
      Nikki March 17, 2023 8:38 am

      Totally right, looks like we copied the wrong list! Thanks for pointing that out, it’s been fixed 🙂

  • Avatar
    Theo April 11, 2023 7:52 am

    I like the look of the Kinnan Deck, but how does it win? It looks like it’s just a combo for infinite mana and draw your deck. But what does it have to close out the game? Is it go-wide after dropping every creature in your deck? That’s still a steep ask for taking out 3 other players with relatively small mana dorks.

    • Pedro Furtado (djorso)
      Pedro Furtado (djorso) May 2, 2023 4:55 am

      Hey, thanks for the comment.
      Yes, one of the main win conditions is to make infinte mana to make opponents draw their deck, using cards like Blue Sun’s Zenith or Stroke of Genius. There’s the option to spam Kinnan’s ability and find targets like Nezahal too. Keep in mind that’s a budget deck, so players should feel free to tinker with and add more wincons.

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